Five years ago I was lost. Not just trying (and failing) to figure out my place as an adult but separated from God completely. I grew up in a Christian house, went to Christian school, but despite my parents’ best efforts to lead me down the right path I was unsaved. I knew all the right answers and I believed in God, but that was not enough (see James 2:19).
In 2012 I ended up in a men’s Bible study group after an amazing and God-ordained invitation to a young professionals Sunday school class by a stranger at the swimming pool. It has taken me a few years to unpack what happened, but while reading The Reason For God by Tim Keller in that men’s group, I know one thing for sure: I had a radical experience with the irresistible grace of God. Understanding that grace was a gift did something in my heart that I can only credit to the Lord.
My salvation story is similar to the great theologian C.H. Spurgeon. I was floundering in my own sin and was headed for destruction, but by the grace of God I was saved, and I did absolutely nothing to deserve it. Spurgeon explains my testimony perfectly in the recounting of his own:
“One week-night, when I was sitting in the house of God, I was not thinking much about the preacher’s sermon, for I did not believe it. The thought struck me, “How did you come to be a Christian?” I sought the Lord. “But how did you come to seek the Lord?” The truth flashed across my mind in a moment—I should not have sought Him unless there had been some previous influence in my mind to make me seek Him. I prayed, thought I, but then I asked myself, How came I to pray? I was induced to pray by reading the Scriptures. How came I to read the Scriptures? I did read them, but what led me to do so? Then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and that He was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make this my constant confession, “I ascribe my change wholly to God.” “
I recently wrote a post about my homeless friend J.R. that can be found here. I am happy to say that after reconnecting with his sister, he is now no longer homeless. He went through a 30-day program for his addiction, is currently sober, and ready to take on the world. While speaking with him on the phone the other day, he said something to me that made me aware that God was tugging at his heart. He said, “You have joy, and I want what you have.” J.R. has been called to the path that I began several years ago, and I am overjoyed. I’m not a fan of “humble bragging” and I assure you that isn’t my goal here so just bear with me.
One thing I try to pray every morning is that God will be glorified by what I do that day and that He will help me to be a light that points to Him. J.R. has been an easy guy to love so I don’t feel like I did anything special, but he saw Jesus in the way we loved him and it changed his life. He was drawn by the grace of God through some volunteers bringing breakfast out to his homeless camp and telling him about Christ. Thankfully J.R. didn’t see me on the day that I chunked a cup of coffee over my shoulder because a homeless guy named G. thought my tailgate barista skills were sub par.
J.R. sent me a text this weekend while we were visiting CitySquare, an organization that battles homelessness and poverty in Dallas. It said, “Wasn’t for you, I’d still be in the dirt”. I assured him that I do what I do out of gratitude to the one who saved me, and that everything good in me is from Him. J.R. will understand that soon. The truth is, that if it weren’t for God, we would all still be in the dirt. I would still be chasing empty wealth or maybe even dead, but when I felt the beauty of His grace, my world flipped upside down and I had no choice but to joyfully run into the arms of my Father. My point is that an English preacher, a privileged white kid, and a homeless veteran all felt God calling us to himself through a deep taste of His grace. Were it not for our God coming to rescue us, we’d all still be lost.
On Saturday while Briana and Truma went to a baby shower, I headed to Church Under the Bridge to see some friends and worship. It was one of those days that everything kind of fell apart. The people who volunteered to make breakfast didn’t come, the worship person was absent, and the pastor had to stay home. It was decided that we would just play some worship songs on an iPhone and then I would give my testimony followed by anyone else who wanted to share. I have been studying First Peter Chapter 1 all year and when it came time to get up there and talk, I felt compelled to preach from that particularly verses 3-9. I have never preached a day in my life, but the funny thing is, I wasn’t nervous at all. I felt God compelling me to share what He said to the suffering and persecuted believers. I honestly have no idea what I said, and I pray that it encouraged my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering on the streets. I also pray that it displayed the grace of God in such a way that He will use it to save some of His lost sheep.
I’m not a perfect person. There’s many things I wish I didn’t do… Just kidding that’s a Hoobastank lyric from back in the day. But seriously, everything good that is coming out of me is a precious gift from God. It was not me that lifted J.R. out of the dirt, but the Lord. In what way is God working to glorify Himself through your life? When you find out, you’d better buckle up.
This week we got our trailer that we will turn over to Kahler Homes to build our model home. We are so excited to have something tangible after months and months of planning. This coming week is full of important meetings as we continue to prepare to build a village. Thank you all for walking alongside us and being a part of this work that God is doing through us. We love you!
· J.R. in his walk with the Lord. Finding a good church for him.
· Relationships and partnerships with organizations to provide mental and physical healthcare on site in our village
· W. and M. as they continue to recover from a break-in. Strength and boldness for them in their work with the lost.
· Healing for our unborn niece and peace for her parents. For God to be glorified through her life.